Stobart Group invests in luggage delivery travel technology scale-up AirPortr

UK transport specialist Stobart Group is investing GBP2 million in travel technology scale-up AirPortr to deliver flexible and efficient luggage transportation solutions for airlines and airports. The mobile luggage check-in and delivery service was successfully launched with British Airways in October 2016 and is the first in the world to be integrated into airline booking systems.

Stobart Group, which own and operates Southend Airport and regional air carrier Stobart Air  believes the new link up supports the UK government’s call to create a new aviation strategy, including city check-ins for luggage, which puts passengers at its heart through improved accessibility, customer experience and security.

The investment from Stobart, is part of a larger funding round and will support AirPortr’s plans to partner with more airlines and cities in the next three years. Utilising Stobart’s ownership of the entire supply chain including logistics, aviation services and infrastructure, the partnership powered by Stobart Aviation clearly creates a new urban handling model that will address capacity constraints for airlines and airports, while at the same time improving the customer experience.

Randel Darby, chief executive officer and founder of AirPortr says the investment will help the company to meet increasing demand for an alternative mobile check-in solution in cities around the world.” Airline luggage logistics have long lagged behind developments in travel technology. “We’re proud to pioneer a solution, which we feel could represent the biggest step change since the boarding pass went mobile,” he adds.

AirPortr was founded in 2012 and is currently partnered with Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London and the service is offered to British Airways customers via its online channels and mobile app. It first launched its standard delivery service in May 2014 at London City Airport, at London Gatwick from July 2015 and London Heathrow in December 2015.

It claims to have already delivered more than 43,000 bags since 2016 and expects several more airlines to be added to the platform over the coming year in response to inbound interest and increasing demand for alternative mobile check-in solutions.

The product allows customers to check-in their luggage from home, at the office or in their hotel lobby from the day before travel up to seven hours before flight departure, choosing a one-hour collection slot. It has been developed following consultation with the Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport to ensure the service is compliant with strict aviation security regulations.

All bags are sealed with tamper-aware technology upon collection and vehicles remain locked at all times, while the company’s drivers are strictly vetted to aviation standards and use the company’s mobile technology to reconcile customer identification documents and baggage with airline systems as part of its secure process for check-in and delivery to the airline.

Prices range from £30 per first bag with the option to either have them delivered to the airport, transported on arrival to a London address or the full bag drop from doorstep to destination option where AirPortr also will check the bags in with the airline.

AirPortr was set up by three frequent flyers. “We’d seen travel change a lot over the years. High street Travel Agents were replaced by Check-in desks and boarding passes moved to mobile phones. But no one had made travelling with luggage any simpler,” they explain. “Tired of organising our days around suitcases. And arriving at the airport two hours early to queue. So we decided to change things.”